Bridge to Terabithia

And the Connection to Real Life
The students will learn to apply terms, such as narrative and theme, to the
story Bridge to Terabithia, as well as further reading. The students will
participate in active games and activities that delve into the characters,
themes, emotions, and ideas presented in this story and how each character
approaches the different scenarios. The students will collaborate to write a
scene based on a selected scene from the book, and transform that scene
into a scripted scene to be performed. The students will have to identify the
goals of each character, the themes being addressed, and the resolution that
is, or could happen.
Created by: Lindsay Phillpott
Target Age/Grade: 4th
Content Length: 120 minutes per day/3 days
Goals/Objectives:
 The students will understand and comprehend the book Bridge to
Terabithia written by Katherine Paterson.
 The students will gain knowledge of the story’s theme and how to
pinpoint it in other stories.
 The students will explore different character’s and their choices.
 The students will explore different worlds using their imaginations.
 The students will compare and contrast themes found in the text.
 The students will differentiate between the “real world” and the
“imagined world” in the book.
 The students will examine the importance of creating scenarios in their
minds to help solve real life problems.
Standards:
 Reading Standards:
o Key Ideas and Details: 4.1, 4.2, 4.3
o Craft and Structure: 4.6
o Integration of Knowledge and Ideas: 4.7
 Theatre Standards:
o Script Writing: 1.1, 1.4
o Character Acting: 2.4, 2.5
Prior Knowledge:
 The students will have read Bridge to Terabithia written by Katherine
Paterson.

Theme Party
 Goals/Objectives
o The students will determine the theme of the story.
o The students will connect the characters in the story to
themselves.
o The students will begin working on final assessment.
 Description
o Warm Up/Welcome: Arrange desks so there is room for students
to walk around. Circle or semi circle is best. First day meeting the
students. Play name game. Stand in circle and have each
student, one at a time, say their name with a describing word
that starts with the same letter while also have an action to go
along with it. Ex: Lovable Lindsay, and hug yourself. Next have
students walk around the room in a neutral state. Then play
“Walk This World”. While the students walk around in neutral,
facilitator will explain that she will be calling out different
scenarios. The students are to walk around as if they are in these
different scenarios. Begin calling out scenarios and allow
students to explore. Side-coach as necessary.
o 1st Activity: Exploring themes in the book. Have the students sit
in a circle. Discuss different themes that they believe are focused
on in the story. Can also write these on the board or on butcher
paper, whatever works best for you as the facilitator. Ex:
Bullying, Family, Fear, Love, Friendship, etc. Once the group has
discussed themes in the book, divide the class into 2 or 3 groups
depending on class size. Ask the students to collaborate and
write down the 2 main things they think are most apparent in the
book. Then write down specific examples from the text that
support these themes. When complete, ask each group to share
their thoughts. With these top themes in mind, lead the students
out of the classroom, tell them that once they enter the room,
they will be in Jess and Leslie’s classroom just like in the book.
Give each group a character, one group is Jess, one group is Mrs.
Myers, and the other group is Gary Fulcher (bully). Have them
enter and work together as groups, taking turns, in creating a
short scenario in the class.
o Reflection: You and the students come out of role, and begin
discussion on the activity. Ask if the themes were apparent. If not
all, which ones. Discuss the difference between characters and
what the goals of each character might have been for that
particular scene.
o 2nd Activity: Lead students through a vocal warm up. After
warmed up vocally, ask the students to find a comfortable spot in
the room. They will close their eyes and listen. Then begin to
describe the forest in the book. Use words from the book along

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with other describing words to create the visualization. Ask each
students to begin to hear the sounds in the forest. Inform them
that you will be walking around the room, when they feel you tap
them on the shoulder, they will begin making the noise they hear
in the forest. Keep this going until everyone in the room is
contributing. You can then change the tempo and the level if you
wish. End with a short reflection of what each student felt and
how the forest was to them. Is their forest similar to the forest in
the book? Do they think Jess and Leslie heard some of those
noises and felt some of the same things?
Game/Short Focus: Shake down count down!-short energy
activity. Tableaux. Have students, or separate into two groups
depending on class size, group in middle of classroom or in front.
Take different scenes from the book (in the treehouse in
Terabithia, playground, Jess’s house, etc.), along with or instead
of, call out certain characters (Jess, Leslie, Jess’s Dad, Mrs.
Myers, Janice, etc.). Ask the students to create a live picture that
describes this scene or character. They will have a countdown
from 10-1. The students will work together to create this picture
of what the scene or character looks like as described in their live
picture. Have a quick reflection on the student’s experiences by
discussing out loud.
3rd Activity: Unknown Conversation: Divide the students into two
groups. Can face desks towards each other on sides of classroom
courtroom style, can make a circle. Two separate groups. Inform
the students that they are going to be participating in a
conversation that we did not read in the book. They are going to
be focusing on what they know from the story, and what the
know about the characters, to create a conversation that has
happened, but that we did not get to read in the story. Work
together to decide which two characters the class wants to use.
Suggestions: Mr. and Mrs. Aarons, Janice and Leslie, Janice and
Jess, Mrs. Myers and Jess, Mr. and Mrs. Burke. Lead the class
through prompt questions to start off the scene. Have the
students create a live scene between these two characters
discussing an issue that has happened in the book, but this
conversation has not been seen. The “what they said when I
went to sleep” conversation. If goes well, can be used again and
switch characters, or use different characters.
Reflection: Lead the students through a discussion on the
activity. Ask them if they imagined these “unspoken”
conversations when reading this book or other books.
Closing Activity/Reflection/Assessment: Divide the students into
groups, varies depending on size of class and number of
students. Explain that they will be working in these groups for
the next few days, and that they will be learning a short scene.

Give the students each a short scene, can all be the same scene,
different, etc., but must be from the book. Have the students
decide who will be playing which character, and have them begin
reading through the scene. There will need to be a narrator in
each scene to narrate what is happening in the scene. After the
students have read through, explain that they will be working
together in their group to create a short scene that can be
performed, based on the text they have just read. They will need
to create a version that can be performed. This means they will
need to have characters speak their lines and act out the things
happening in the text. Walk around helping the students and
giving examples of what they each could use. Could also have
example written out on handouts that each group has for them
to use as necessary.
Getting to Know You
 Goals/Objectives
o The students will engage in character acting and exploring
different characters.
o The students will explore emotions and how they connect to the
characters in the story.
o The students will participate in-role activities.
 Description
o Warm Up/Welcome: The students will play Alphabet Freeze
exercise. Have the students walk around the room in neutral
state. Explain that you will say a letter of the alphabet and when
you say that, you will count down from 5 to 1. Once you get to 1,
the students must be frozen in a pose that is related to the letter
just called out. Ex: A, the student can’t freeze as an Apple,
however that might look to the student. Once the facilitator has
done 1 or 2 letters, have the students walk around in neutral.
Explain that you will now be calling out letters, but the students
must freeze as something that they have read, or that reminds
them of the book. Example, the letter is T, the student could
freeze as a Troll.
o 1st Activity: Divide the class into groups (varies on class), 2-4
suggested. Each group will be creating short performance. This
can be abstract. The focus of this activity is to communicate an
idea or feeling. There can be words, but does not need to, more
focused on movement. Give the students a time frame (20
minutes to work and then performance). The students will
collaborate in their groups to create a performance piece,
movement, sound, not necessarily dialogue but can use some,
dialogue is not the focus though. The groups will use 1-a
character from the book, 2-a line from the book that involves

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that character, 3- at least THREE abstract movements.
Combining all of these, the groups will convey what their chosen
character FEARS most. Side coaching is necessary.
Reflection: Have the students actively reflect and discuss each
piece after each performance. Prompt questions: What did their
character fear? Who do you think their chosen character was?
Would you have those same fears if you were that character?
2nd Activity: Last Line Entrance. All students will participate, but
two students will be actively in the scene at a time. Two students
will begin, and a 3rd will be in the hallway, outside the classroom.
Before beginning, explain that the students will be creating
original scenes based on the characters in the book. This is an
improv game. There is no right, or wrong scene. The two
students on “stage” will begin a scene as two random characters
from the book. The facilitator will FREEZE the scene when she
thinks appropriate, and the 3rd actor will come in, and take the
spot of one of the actors in the scene. The scene then begins by
the actor/student that was in the last scene, repeating the last
line of the previous scene. The actors/students will then continue
the scene however they please in the realm of the story. Have all
students participate. When finished, have a short reflection.
Game/Short Focus: The Knot! Short energy activity. Working on
narrative. Have the students choose a character. They will be
writing for 2 minutes (varies on time and class). Tell them to
write in the voice of the chosen character, starting with the
question, “What do I most want people to know about me?”. Give
them their time of 2 minutes.
3rd Activity: Talk Show: Exit and re-enter the room In-Role as a
talk show host. Come up with name for you and show (ex: Hello
everyone! Welcome to “Let’s Talk It Out”, with me, your host,
Terry Talks-A lot!). Inform them that there are special guests
today on your show, Mr. and Mrs. Aarons! Jess’s parents! Get two
volunteers to be the parents, if more students want to
participate, you can have his sisters as well. Begin the show by
introducing each character. Ask them to tell them a little about
themselves, what they do, how old they are, what their hobbies
are, etc. (If the answers aren’t in the actual text/students don’t
know exact answer, they can make them up as long as they
relate to the character). Ask them what their childhoods were
like, their favorite foods, colors, fears, goals, dreams. Things they
wanted to accomplished but never did. How the parents met
each other. What they thought about Jess when he lost the keys.
Etc.
Reflection: Come out of role and have open discussion on what
the students thought. Their reactions, how they knew what to

say. Etc. Ask students if the themes we talked about previously
were still true in this interview.
o Closing Activity/Reflection/Assessment: Have students get in
groups and work on their adaptation of their scene for their
performance. Walk around giving suggestions and helping when
needed. Begin side-coaching. Tell students to get the piece “up
on its feet”, aka have them begin performing their scene. The
scene will not need to be memorized, they will be reading while
performing. Inform them that tomorrow will be Performance day!
So Long, Farewell
 Goals/Objectives
o The students will continue character development and
understanding.
o The students will actively participate in in-role activities.
o The students will examine emotions faced in the book, as well as
how we deal with personal emotions that are intimidating.
o The students will perform their final scene with their group.
 Description
o Warm Up/Welcome: The students will be exploring the end of the
book today and the emotions that came up when reading it, or
what the characters might have felt. Have the students come up
to the board or butcher paper on the wall and write different
emotions that either they the readers, or the characters in the
story felt in the book/while reading it. All emotions are welcome.
Everyone should write at least one. Have the students reflect on
these and expand a little, with side coaching if necessary. Once
they have been written on the board, play Slow Motion Emotion.
You will need 2/3, depending on class size, volunteers at a time.
Everyone else will be audience members until it is their turn. The
volunteer students will “take the stage” and choose, as a group
or pair, which emotion from the board they will use. All will
choose the same emotion. You will give them 10 seconds as a
count down to embody that emotion. However, they choose to
embody it. Once you have gotten to 1, the audience will try and
guess which emotion the group has chosen. The students can
use their faces, whole bodies, or work together as a group to
create a tableau. Let them decide and see what works for each
group.
o 1st Activity: Stereotypes in the book and in our world. The
importance of facing our problems, and knowing when to escape
and have a safe place. Inform the students that they will be
participating in an improv activity. Have students break off into
groups of 2-4. Explain that they will each be improvising a scene
based on what they have read in the book, as well as the music

that they will be hearing. They will only have about a minute for
each piece. The facilitator will be walking around side-coaching
while groups are working. Before the first scene, tell them they
will first be in the classroom and can be any characters they
choose. Tell them something will happened during their scene
and ask them to notice the shift in their characters and their own
emotions when it happens. Have them begin a scene, after a few
seconds, play a song/instrumental music that is loud and
abrasive. End the scene. Have a quick reflection. Rotate and
switch partners. Have them start a second scene, this time in
Terabithia. Begin and then play a song/instrumental music that
sounds adventurous (ex. Pirates of the Caribbean). Have a quick
reflection. Now have the students come together and select 2-4
volunteers to come up. Explain that they will be doing the same
thing we just worked on, but this time they will be creating a
longer scene. Work together with the rest of the class to decide
which characters will be used. Have them start off in the
classroom with abrasive music, and transition into Terabithia with
adventurous music, ending with soothing music.
o Reflection: Have students discuss the difference in the music and
how it changed the mood and affected the characters in their
own scenes, as well as in the final scene we just watched. How
are the characters of the “bullies” different from the “good
guys”? How are the similar? Do they all feel the same things?
How can we use our imaginations, books, families, and friends to
help us feel safe and secure, when the world around us is scary
and intimidating?
o 2nd Activity: Have the students draw what they imagine Terabithia
to look like if it were on a stage, and how Jesse and Leslie fit into
that world. Have them share their drawings if time allows.
o Game/Short Focus: Energy Ball-short energy activity. Gibberish
Expert. The students will delve into the world of Terabithia! We
will take turns playing this game, but all students might not have
a chance to actively be a part of it, all will be audience and help
the game along. Need 2 to 4 volunteers to begin. Explain that we
have special guests today, all the way from Terabithia! We have
some Trolls, woodland creatures, etc. here today and we have
the only person (or persons depending on the number of
students you choose) that can translate for them! One or two
students will be the creatures, and one or two are the translators.
The rest of the class are the interviewers. Have the students ask
the creatures questions about their world, but since the creatures
can’t understand or speak English, the translators have to
translate the questions and the answers. Have a quick reflection
after game.

o 3rd Activity: Interview: Ask for volunteers, 3-5 depending on class
size). Inform the students that they were friends of Leslie. Have
the other students face chairs, or sit on floor, making a semi
circle around the volunteers. Explain that they have been asked
to talk about Leslie and reflect on her life. Ask them each to
introduce themselves and their name (Jess, May Belle, Etc.) and
that you will be asking them questions. Remind them that this is
a safe environment, and that if they begin to feel emotions that
their character might have felt, or that they felt when reading
the book, it is perfectly fine, and if they need to take a moment
or step out of the room, to do so. Prompt questions: Who are
you? How do you know Leslie? How long have you known her?
Were you close friends? Did you like her? What was your initial
opinion of her? What was your favorite thing about her? Do you
know what happened to her? Can repeat this game with other
students, and other scenarios, such as asking about Jess, or
talking to Leslie’s parents.
o Reflection: Remind again that this is a safe place. Begin
discussion with students on the different emotions that they felt
during this activity, as well as what the characters felt in the
story. How do these connect to the themes of the story? Have
students write down comparing and contrasting their thoughts
on their thoughts and opinions of the story when they first read
it, and what they think now after discussing it these few days
together.
o Closing Activity/Reflection/Assessment: Give the students 10
minutes to work on their scene and put on the final touches.
Walk around and help. Inform students that this does not need to
be perfect. This is the beginning stages of writing their own play,
book, or even movie script! They are on their way to becoming
writers! Have groups perform while others are good audience
members. Once each group has gone, have a talk back and ask
students what they thought. Prompt questions: What was the
hardest part when working/performing your scene? Does
everyone feel like their scene made sense? Was it fun? What
were the themes in each scene? What did each character learn
while going through the book? Which character do you think
changed the most?